Climate Change, Stormy Weather and Outdoor Event Production

Posted on November 14, 2018

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Hoping for the best, but planning for the worst

By Mark Dolce

The planet is warming and the climate is changing, and as event production professionals—the sometimes salty Rain Dogs who work through all kinds of Stormy Weather—we plan for it, we deal with it, and we’re here today to share a bit of hard-won wisdom about making the event magic happen in the great outdoors, despite whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

At Event 360, we take a two-pronged approach: 1) extensive contingency planning for weather; and 2) taking substantive steps to reduce our events’ impact on the environment.

All Weather is Local
As you might have guessed, it’s not the Harveys or Florences that we have to worry about: storms that are big enough to earn a name also come with plenty of warning. What turns event planners’ hair gray—those of us who have hair—are the intensely localized cells of bad weather that can seemingly come out of nowhere, and those instances of extreme cold or extreme heat. There’s a reason these things are happening with more frequency: increased temperature means the air holds more water vapor (about 3% per 1 degree F), and when that happens, the rain, the heat, the cold, and the droughts are more intense.

When these localized events become supercharged due to climate change, it presents special problems for events like bike rides or marathons that take place over a larger geographic area. For example, you may be getting light drizzle at the start line, but just a few miles away, there may be a biblical deluge. The possibility of wildly divergent weather within the boundaries of one event not only make contingency planning an absolute imperative, but also it further highlights the importance of communication among staff and participants in real time.

Real Life Scenarios
Our very own René Tamayo and Erin De Baets give us their eyewitness accounts of how an event team must swing into action when bad weather strikes. René offers a detailed dissection of what his Event 360 team did when a microburst devastated an event site in the middle of the night, just hours before an opening ceremony. Erin relates the importance of communication when participants and guests need to be kept apprised of weather updates on a continual basis, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

For our Event 360 production planners—who have decades of experience planning outdoor events of all sizes (from 100 to 100,000 people)—it’s simple: you plan for the worst. You can’t plan for every contingency, but the better prepared you are, the better positioned you are to react quickly and efficiently if disaster strikes.

Reducing the Impact on the Environment
Producing an event takes resources of all kinds, so it’s up to us to reduce the impact on the environment wherever possible. No matter what the size of the event, you’re making decisions about resources based on quantities, things like how many vehicles, food, and water you might need. With every decision, you have an opportunity to find a solution that lessens the waste and the impact on the local ecosystem. We do this on our events by focusing on things like how we can creatively pack and load to use fewer vehicles, how we can effectively use more bio-degradable materials, or how we can reduce our use of water without sacrificing participant safety. We also encourage more environmentally responsible behavior from participants by sending and posting messages that convey the importance of carpooling to the event or taking the time to clean up after themselves at the event site. All of these things help, and cumulatively, they make a difference.

Let’s Talk
If you want us to take a look at your contingency planning or help you think through your outdoor event production or just talk about the weather, contact us. We’re happy to help.


Bonus: The Event 360 Stormy Weather Soundtrack
Whether you like the curves of Hot Pants Road, keep to the Sunny Side of the Street or prefer Thunder Road, whether you’re a Sunshine Superman or a Fool in the Rain, whether you’re seeking a Rainbow Connection or you just like to Soak Up the Sun, or maybe you’re just wondering Who’ll Stop the Rain, here’s a Stormy Weather Playlist for all you Rain Dogs out there who work through Stormy Weather . . . goes well with a tall Dark & Stormy, naturally.


Mark Dolce is a copywriter for MuckFest® MS, the mud and obstacle fun run benefiting the National MS Society.


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